£136m office and homes scheme planned after developer buys former fire station site

July 6, 2018

The former Avon Fire and Rescue headquarters site in Bristol city centre has been acquired by city-based developer Cubex to transform it into new homes and offices.

Cubex, backed by funding partner Palmer Capital, sealed the deal in the face of fierce bidding from investors and developers from across the UK for what is one of the last regeneration sites remaining in Bristol’s central business district. 

Cubex, which is developing the neighbouring £275m Finzels Reach mixed-use scheme, plans to build a 100,000 sq ft Grade A office building on the site, pictured, along with 300-plus homes, which are likely to be for rent.

Some 20% of the homes will be affordable which means the scheme will meet Bristol City Council’s threshold to be fast-tracked through planning in order to start on site as soon as possible.

The £136m mixed-use scheme for the site incorporates. 20% of the homes will be affordable.

Cubex has secured funding to develop the office building speculatively and aims to be on site soon after planning consent has been secured.

The firm decided to build speculatively following the success of its nearby 95,000 sq ft Grade A Aurora building, part of Finzels Reach. Aurora was designed and built before occupiers took on space but is now almost fully let ahead of completion this summer.

The new office building is likely to follow the same sustainable design principles as Aurora. 

The site is also close to The Paragon office building, which Cubex completed in 2011, and will complete the regeneration of the area which had stalled when the previous developer of Finzels Reach went into administration five years.

Once complete, the former fire service site will accommodate more than fifteen hundred people and continue the regeneration of the area. Cubex started this regeneration work five years ago when they stepped in to develop Finzels Reach after a previous attempt went into receivership

The £136m mixed-use scheme will be made up of a series of buildings surrounding a landscaped courtyard. Cubex is looking to work with Bristol City Council and neighbours to make the surrounding roads Temple Back and Temple Street more pedestrian and cycle friendly.

Cubex executive director Gavin Bridge said: “We plan to bring our strong local knowledge and track record of delivery in Bristol to breathe new life into this site, bringing further badly-needed new homes, work space and investment into the heart of the city. 

“We’re extremely pleased to have secured funding to enable us to develop another speculative office building of the same quality as Aurora at Finzels Reach, along with more than 300 apartments likely to be aimed at the ‘build-to-rent’ market.

“We all know Bristol needs more homes, and we’re really pleased to be building them – including a good proportion that meet the ‘affordable’ criteria.

“I’m particularly pleased that we can now continue the journey that began with Finzels Reach five years ago in developing attractive mixed-use schemes in urban locations. The development will be designed to complement the building forms and adopted densities of Finzels Reach that have been well received by Bristol City Council.”

The development plot became available after Avon Fire & Rescue Service consolidated its activities by building a new station on part of its existing site and moving to shared headquarters with the police in North Somerset.

Avon Fire and Rescue clerk Guy Goodman said: “We were delighted with the interest shown and are confident that local developer Cubex has the capability to bring forward a design and range of uses that will provide a suitable lasting legacy for this important site.”

Avon Fire and Rescue was represented by property agents Lambert Smith Hampton’s Bristol office with legal advice from Bristol-headquartered national law firm TLT.

Lambert Smith Hampton director Peter Musgrove said: “We are extremely pleased with the outcome of this significant transaction for the city of Bristol.

“Unsurprisingly, we saw a huge volume of interest in the site, given its rarity in terms of location and potential, but a key part of this deal was achieving the balance between the right price and securing the right buyer, and how they would develop this landmark opportunity. 

“Cubex is a highly respected local developer and the proposed plans will transform this quarter of the city.”

A specialist team of public sector and real estate experts from TLT managed the transaction, including head of public sector Andrew Glynn and real estate associate Ed Pitt, working in partnership with the authority’s in-house solicitor Guy Goodman.

Andrew Glynn said: “Real estate asset management can be central to improving operational efficiencies, particularly in the public sector where budgetary pressures remain high.

“We are delighted to have assisted Avon Fire Authority with the successful completion of this high-profile transaction in Bristol’s central business district.

“Our Bristol office is nearby and we look forward to seeing development take place, helping to meet increasing demand for new residential and commercial property in the Bristol market.”

Initial public consultations on design are likely to begin in this autumn with a start on site next year.


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